Often, when I am called in as a 'company doctor', the CEO/ owner will blame competition for problems. Yet they never ask the question "What are they doing better or differently to me?" How often do you visit a pub that's quiet and yet another a few yards away is heaving!

So here are 10 red hot tips which will hopefully help you to become more prosperous- no order, just pick the ones relevant to you.

1. Start thinking laterally. Ask yourself "Is it the way I am doing things" Reflect on the adage "If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got".

Keep an open mind and do some mystery shopping. Learn from others/pick their brains. NEVER say "That will not work here"! Adapt and be flexible. A good business mentor will play devil's advocate to help you continually examine yourself.

2. Have a comprehensive Performance Measurement system. Information is power and if you don't know which products/services are making or losing money and where your time and monies are going then you cannot make effective decisions. Identify 3 or 4 KPI's (key performance indicators) of your business.

3. PR communications strategy is crucial. For example, no good having a brilliant website if no one knows who you are and where to find you. Raise awareness and use others to spread the word e.g. happy customers, suppliers, networks, social media etc.

4. Learn to be a good negotiator and understand different styles. Use a consultative approach by understanding what drives your prospect. Never discount without gaining something in return and justify your offering by illustrating the benefits to them, especially in £'s

5. Have high standards, ethics and ethos- make sure all your organisation 'buys in' – strong team ownership and accountability will mean you don't sacrifice your standards when times get tough.

6. Diversification. No organisation can stand still- you must always be looking for improvements, opportunities, acquisitions, diversification etc. Sometimes splitting your business operation can be advantageous.

7. Remain positive. Potential customers sense if the atmosphere is not right. Don't be a 'pint half empty' person. Make sure all your customers have a happy experience they will remember and return.

8. The Price really is what customers are willing to pay. Why do people pay circa 5 times more for Red Bull/litre than Coke yet manufacturing costs are similar? How can you be different or add value? Focus on Differentiation. Research shows people will purchase on TRUST and CONFIDENCE that they will not be let them down rather than price.

9. Unbundle your products/services including any FOC. By showing items separately allows more flexibility in negotiation, fairer comparison to competitors and buyers can 'mix and match'

10. Offer options- e.g. A, B and C, allows buyers multiple choices to counteract competition. Can you identify partners that can help widen both your offerings?

Article by Peter Sutcliffe of New Direction Ltd.

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